There is much to fear from the unholy trinity of the fossil-fuel industry, anti-government intervention ideology and egotistically contrarian public intellectuals.
“It’s Not Your Imagination: Summers Are Getting Hotter.” So read a recent headline in The New York Times, highlighting a decade-by-decade statistical analysis by climate expert James Hansen. “Most summers,” the analysis concluded, “are now either hot or extremely hot compared with the mid-20th century.”
So what else is new? At this point the evidence for human-caused global warming just keeps getting more overwhelming, and the plausible scenarios for the future — extreme weather events, rising sea levels, drought and more — just keep getting scarier.
In a rational world urgent action to limit climate change would be the overwhelming policy priority for governments everywhere.
But the U.S. government is, of course, now controlled by a party within which climate denial — rejecting not just scientific evidence but also obvious lived experience, and fiercely opposing any effort to slow the trend — has become a defining marker of tribal identity.
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Put it this way: Republicans can’t seem to repeal Obamacare, and recriminations between Senate leaders and the tweeter in chief are making headlines. But the GOP is completely united behind its project of destroying civilization, and it’s making good progress toward that goal.
So where does climate denial come from?
Just to be clear, experts aren’t always right; even an overwhelming scientific consensus sometimes turns out to have been wrong. And if someone offers a good-faith critique of conventional views, a serious effort to get at the truth, he or she deserves a hearing.
What becomes clear to anyone following the climate debate, however, is that hardly any climate skeptics are in fact trying to get at the truth. I’m not a climate…